In a recent interview with Ed Migliore, Spanish teacher and department head, he introduced me to the Web 2.0 tool of Todays Meet (http://todaysmeet.com/). Sr. Migs uses this tool to allow students to add their comments and thoughts on a particular subject as a warm-up or introduction to a new unit of study. This tool allows everyone to comment without the disruptive behaviour of everyone calling out. He also posts sentences to be translated and then asks all students to enter their translations. This permits all students to work at their own pace. Sr. Migs can also easily see who did and did not answer and can quickly identify those students who are struggling. By TodaysMeet allowing the conversation to be deleted after different time intervals, teachers can use this Web 2.0 tool as either a quick check or it can be used to facilitate an ongoing discussion. At the end of the lesson, Sr. Migs has a copy of everything his students had to say plus any questions students may have posed.
As this was a Web 2.0 tool that was shared with staff from our Technology Department, Sr. Migs was instantly able to incorporate it into his classroom without fear of the site being blocked by the district filter. One of the only obstacles Sr. Migs still encounters is the occasional student who forgets that everyone can see what he/she posts and ends up posting something far off the topic being discussed. Another obstacle would include those days when the Internet is down and the site cannot be accessed.
Sr. Migs recommends this site to all teachers, but he advises that you practice using the site with a few people first before introducing it to an entire class. He also recommends establishing some ground rules in regards to; language used in the posts, staying on topic, everyone must contribute something, number of times one can respond to a particular post, and keeping the conversation "on-line" and not turning it into a verbal conversation.
I had the opportunity to try it with a few of my family members as I am currently not in the classroom but out on sabbatical. Each family member got his/her laptop and we tried it. To be honest, it was a lot of fun. We ended up being in all different rooms of the house and held a conversation about what everyone would like for dinner. Our daughters had an easier time with it as their typing skills are much more advanced than my husband's!! I love the idea of posting a warm-up question to the class and having each student respond to it while I am busy taking attendance and getting myself ready to begin the class. I am looking forward to using this tool upon my return to the classroom next year!